What Is a Worldview?

What Is a Worldview?

What Is a Worldview?

A worldview is a perspective used to interpret one’s own experiences as well as the happenings in civilizations and history (Vidal, 2008). Every individual who has beliefs about reality and how to make sense of the events in the world is acting from a worldview. Regardless of whether a person is aware of their worldview, everyone has one (Taves, Asprem, & Ihm, 2018 What Is a Worldview?).

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Think of the lens of a camera: A photographer places the lens against his or her eye and views the world through the lens. The photographer assigns meaning to what the lens reveals. A worldview is not a physical lens but, rather, a philosophical and intellectual lens though which a person sees and interprets everything one encounters. It helps a person accumulate and interpret how human beings gain knowledge, the area of study known as epistemology, and what one knows to be true about the world, others, and oneself. Worldview determines what one does and does not value and find meaningful in life.

A worldview includes underlying, often unconscious, assumptions about reality that a person holds. These assumptions inform how a person determines what thoughts and actions are morally right and wrong. They also influence whether a person has positive or negative thoughts about the future. Sandy Gibson (2011 What Is a Worldview?) conducted a study on male prisoners of various ages and discovered that internally held worldview assumptions informed how they viewed both their present circumstances and future possibilities. To put it simply, worldview will influence one’s sense of hopefulness or lack thereof.

Why do some people look forward to the future while others do not? Such worldview assumptions are shaped over a lifetime (Gibson, 2011) and may be additionally influenced by adult experience, such as religious experiences or traumatic events. Other studies conducted by Edmonson, Chaudoir, Mills, Park, and Bartkowiak (2011 What Is a Worldview?) and others demonstrate that trauma can play a significant role in worldview formation. When a person cannot integrate a traumatic event in his or her worldview, then posttraumatic stress disorder may occur, which can change the person’s ability to handle daily activities and shape how the person interprets events and assigns meaning to experiences (Edmonson et.al., 2011).

According to Clément Vidal (2008), those who possess coherent, practical, and consistent worldviews tend to experience less stress, are more open to encountering others in the world, and have a greater sense of trust and hope (Vidal, 2008 What Is a Worldview?). Hence, it is important to think through and hold a worldview that is clear, consistent, and matches reality.

Worldviews come under two broad categories: religious and nonreligious. This text has further divided those two worldview categories into three: atheism, pantheism, and theism. Most people hold worldviews compatible with these three.